|Area:||9,251 sq km|
|Coastline:||648 sq km|
Greek Ammochostos, Turkish Gazi Magusa is a major port in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. It lies on the island's east coast in a bay between Capes Greco and Eloea and is about 37 miles (55 km) east of Nicosia. The port possesses the deepest harbour in Cyprus.
Famagusta is a Frankish corruption of its Greek name, which means "buried in the sand," descriptive of the silted mouth of the Pedieos.
Famagusta city lies south of the ancient city of Salamis (now Salamis ruins) and just north of the ancient ghost town of Varosha (Maras). Today Varosha is no more than an empty ghost town. It lies in a UN zone between the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Famagusta is one of the finest examples of mediaeval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean. The oldest traces of settlements lie in an area near the modern town of Famagusta, then named "Enkomi", going back to 13th Century B.C., the Bronze Age. At the start of the Iron Age the town was built near the sea and was known by the name "Salamis". The name "Ammochostos" is first recorded during the Byzantine period. In 1571 Famagusta was conquered by the Ottoman's.
Some historians declare that Famagusta was founded by King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt in 285 B.C. By the year 300 A.D. the town was one of the principal markets of the Eastern Mediterranean, the rendezvous of rich merchants and the headquarters of many Christian religious orders as revealed by numerous churches of various denominations. These are still to be seen in the town today.
This was the time of the Crusades and when the rich Lusignan family ruled Cyprus. Therefore, the period I 200 to I 489 in Cyprus history is called the Lusignan dynasty. Famagusta was protected by ramparts which encircle the town and the citadel castle guarding the harbour, the best in Cyprus. This citadel or Othello's tower is the first main focus of attention for visitors.
The period I 300 to I 400 is known as the golden age of Famagusta and was regarded as such by visiting merchants who brought back tales of fabulous wealth. After I 400, rival groups of Genoese and Venetian merchants settled there. The Genoese caused much conflict until finally the Venetians took command of all Cyprus. In 1489 they transferred the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta. The Venetians were in command for 82 years and it was from Famagusta that the whole island was governed.
The invention of gun-powder and the use of cannons called for the Venetians to remodel the entire defense for the use of artillery, the new type of warfare. The medieval square towers were replaced with round ones and cannon portholes were inserted all along the walls.
The Turkish armada arrived outside the town in 1570 and put it under siege for a year. In 1571 not only Famagusta, but all of Cyprus was under Turkish rule and remained so until 1878. The end of colonial rule in 1960 led to the intensification of intercommunal contention between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots which concluded in 1974 with Turkish Cypriot rule in North Cyprus.
The new town of Famagusta (also known as Maras or Varosha) lies just to the south of the walled old-city of Famagusta.
As a seaport, Famagusta is a center for the export of citrus fruits and other agricultural products and livestock; other major economic activities include cotton spinning, the distillation of brandy, and fishing.